House debates

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Statements by Members

Family and Domestic Violence

1:57 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

On White Ribbon Day 2016, I announced that a Labor government would amend the Family Law Act to prevent women in family violence cases from being cross-examined by unrepresented perpetrators of that violence. I said that I wouldn't mind if the government adopted that policy straightaway, so we welcome today's news by the government. The pain and hardship of family violence doesn't end when you leave home or change the locks. For far too many, the legal gauntlet of the Family Court is impoverishing, isolating, demoralising and dehumanising. When women seek justice from our nation, when they summon up the courage and resilience to tell their story, they should never be directly cross-examined by their perpetrator. This is a re-injury, a further injustice inflicted by an abuser who's already done enough damage. It's long past the hour that Australia should put a stop to this.

Labor's policy on this allocates $43.2 million to ensure legal aid is made available to all unrepresented parties. I hope the government backs today's words with dollars and resources to ensure proper independent representation is not just a principle but a reality. Preventing violence against women and delivering justice and safety for survivors should be a national priority for our parliament and for all Australians.